DERRY TRIATHLETE Aileen Reid insists she goes into her second Olympic Games in less than three week’s time a lot wiser and more experienced given her nightmare display in London four years ago.
She claims it’s not a case of redemption in Rio or erasing the memories of the 2012 London Games as she prepares for what’s likely to be her final Games in Brazil.
I’m not going to cry into my cornflakes if it doesn’t go as well as planned but I’ll try my best and, like I said, whatever happens, happens.Aileen Reid
However, she believes that ‘terrible’ experience in the English capital, where she ‘naively’ crashed off her bike on her way to a hugely disappointing 43rd place finish, will stand her in good stead for what’s considered by many to be the biggest sporting event of the summer.
The Culmore Road native will fly out to her Florida training camp today (Tuesday) for final preparations ahead of the Rio Olympics which begin for her on August 20th at Copacabana Beach.
At 34 years-old, Reid believes this will be the last time she represents Ireland on the Olympic stage and, despite an admittedly underwhelming season blighted by injury and illness, she’s feeling in top condition ahead of the women’s Olympic triathlon race.
The Team Ireland hopeful felt she went into the London Games with high expectations and didn’t handle the disappointment well. This time around, she feels she’s put herself under a lot less pressure and says she will be happy knowing she’s given it her best shot. “I can’t really say it’s a case of redemption until it’s over and I know how I’ve done,” said Reid last night. “If I come out the other end and have a great result then I’ll say, ‘yeah, that was redemption for London’. But, at the same time, I’ll try my best anyway and that’s all I can really ask. So, whatever happens, happens. This is me going to my second Olympics,” she added. “And I suppose I was naive ahead of the London Games and I was coming off the back of a silver medal in the Madrid World Series race and had high expectations of myself.
“So, going into the Games and having such a terrible finish was really not what I was hoping for and I didn’t really handle it very well.
“Obviously, with high performance sport, a lot of stuff goes on in the mind as well. But, now that I’m older and wiser, I realise life goes on. This race in Rio isn’t going to be the be all and end all of Aileen Reid and it’s not going to define my life.
“I’m not going to cry into my cornflakes if it doesn’t go as well as planned but I’ll try my best and, like I said, whatever happens, happens. I’m probably a more experienced person now that I know that.”
Reid will start as No. 23 this time around and, with the weight of expectation lightened somewhat given her results during the season, she feels she can enjoy the Rio experience a lot more than London.
“There probably has been less pressure this time because I didn’t have the results this year. The last time people were telling me to bring back a medal when they were wishing me well but I was thinking in the back of my mind, ‘will I be a disappointment to you if I don’t bring back a medal?’ There’s only going to be three people who bring back a medal. This time I’m older and wiser and more experienced. I know what I’m capable of and, if I put it all in on the day, then I’ll be happy and be proud of myself. Being the older, wiser person that I am, I take less to heart.”
Reid refused to reveal what her target finish for the Games is, instead insisting she’ll be happy in the knowledge she’s done her best on the day.
“Everyone wants to know a number and, if you look at my results over the last three years, then last year I had four top 10 finishes. That hasn’t been the case this year but, as long as I do my best, I can’t really say a number. I’ll be happy with whatever I get because I know I’ll put in 100 per cent.”
SEE Friday’s Journal for full interview